Hired Help!

I remember that day when..

My father finally accepted the fact that he needed help!

I’ve always known that it is very hard for men to admit that they need help; yet what i didn’t expect was to see my own father going through that…

After the 11 stiches incident, my Uncle A. confronted my father with the fact that we all did not want to see him go through another major fall! He already fractured his leg once, and needed 11 stiches on his head the second time (thank you God for protecting him from any major head injuries) so, a third fall must be avoided!

That was when my father finally agreed to hire a male caregiver, strong enough to hold my father and protect him from another fall; Jo was hired the very next morning for a 12 hour day shift!

Little did we know that my father was still trying to be as independent as he can be, that once again he lost his balance in the shower, falling backwards and hitting his head; it was so fast that Jo, who was right in front of him, could not hold or protect my father from that fall….

Another round of stiches were a must… another 4 on the back of his head…

Why Private?

I remember that day when..

I decided to write about my father and privatized my posts!

When my father was diagnosed with MND, I went through an emotional breakdown that resulted in outbursts of crying, diarrhea, and lack of sleep for several days. I started to worry non-stop, did further reading and research about this chronic disease, and worked extra hard not to show off my emotional suffering; especially not to him.

I started to pay more attention to my father’s symptoms, worrying about how we can manage them getting worse, planning with my siblings on what to do next in regards to our fathers best comfort during the next stages of this disease, concerned about our possible failures if we weren’t fast enough.

Worried about my mother on whether she will be able to accept the facts, on how she will react to this awful truth, on how she will deal with the major changes we will have to endure for the best interest and comfort of my father..

Although I am surrounded with a loving family, and an incredibly loving and supportive husband, yet I still felt the need to vent…. out loud… and quietly at the same time…

So I decided to write, in private, not wanting my family to read it as the last thing we need right now is more reasons to feel miserable!

**Aug 26th update: I just decided to remove the privacy… wishing that our experience will help another, maybe, someday! I will try to resume writing very soon!

11 Stitches

I remember that day when..

My father needed 11 stitches!

During the 6 weeks where my father was stuck with the cast, my Uncle A made more effort to pick up my father, at least 3 – 4 days a week, to go out, pass by the office, followed by meeting other family members for coffee. The evenings, on the other hand, my father spent at home where he welcomed his visitors daily!

When the cast was finally off, my father tried to return to his usual routine before that incident. He started to walk again, but this time with extreme care and using the walker at all times. In the mornings, he would wait for a phone call from his brother to pick him up, while in the evenings, my father’s visitors continued to show up every day!

My father’s symptoms continued and we still didn’t know why. His speech has become worse yet we kept challenging him to keep talking. He kept denying that he needed help, and completely refused to hire a male helper or nurse to protect him from falling again. He didn’t accept the fact that he now needed continuous monitoring; hoping that when June is here… this will all be over!

But…my father fell again, this time he hit his head and needed 11 stitches!

The Fracture

I remember that day when…

My father slipped in the bathroom and fractured his left foot!

I don’t have much to say on this except that it must have been awfully painful! He slept that night thinking the pain would go away, yet he couldn’t sleep at all because of it! My Uncle A took him to see a doctor the next morning and they immediately put a full cast covering his foot and leg all the way up to his knee. The cast was so heavy and painful that my father could no longer support himself anymore; he started using the wheelchair all the time.

The day my father fell in the bathroom, was the day that we were supposed to install accessible grab bars for him for support! For some reason, it was postponed till the next morning which was one day too late!

The cast lasted a total of 6 weeks! Yes, 6 weeks with my father having limited ability to move! On the other hand, the cast surely protected him from another major fall!

Why?

I remember that day when..

My father’s symptoms were progressing and we had no idea why!

Thankfully, the day that my father was released from the hospital, was the same day that my mother came back from Cairo. The doctor had already prescribed a new medicine for him to replace the one that caused his infection, and he had follow-up visits to monitor his blood pressure and use of new meds.

Upon my father’s return home, we thought my father will be feeling better and stronger in a few days’ time, but for some reason, he didn’t! He gradually kept getting thinner and weaker and the deterioration of his speech and use of tongue is now more obvious, even for him.

During the first few weeks after the hospital incident, my father saw many doctors, did many tests including MRIs and CT scans. He started physical therapy as well as electrotherapy, which is an electrical stimulation commonly used to treat spinal issues, hoping that such treatments will help avoid the possibility of a spinal surgery.

My brother and Uncle A. were in charge of my father’s hospital visits and follow-ups. As we managed to reach the best spinal doctor in Germany, the earliest appointment that doctor could give us was in early June; so we had to wait for 3 months! In parallel, we got to meet and correspond with other doctors, locally and internationally, to not only get their opinions on my father’s situation, but also we were looking for other specialists who could help us find a solution to his tongue.

Yet, my father continued tripping; he no longer trusts himself and is more reliant to using the cane outside the house, and the walker inside the house. He stopped driving at night, and limited his outings to safe and familiar areas mostly accompanied by a family member. Until one day, my father fell, and this time he fell hard and fractured his left foot!

The Diagnosis

I remember that day when..

I found out that my father has a terminal illness.

It was on a Tuesday, May 26th, when my brother called to tell me that we will no longer be traveling to Germany to get my father’s spine treated and perhaps operated on. We were supposed to travel the following week, on June 2nd, and we have been waiting for this date for a couple of months already. We were finally ready to go, and treat my father, and allow him the time to get back to his normal health and routine soon after. We were waiting to travel, in complete hope and excitement that this soon will be over. We were optimistic and looking forward to his complete recovery while enjoying the lovely summer weather of Munich. We were also looking forward to spending quality time together as a family including having my father’s siblings join us.

My brother explained to me, over the phone, that my father does not need a bone doctor to treat his spine, what my father needs is a neurologist!

While he was trying to explain to me of our father’s condition, in a soft manner, I immediately asked: Is it ALS?

My brother: How do you know ALS?
Me: I read about it, saw the movie of Prof. Hawking, and know of the ALS bucket challenge last summer.
My brother: It is ALS.
Me: Did the doctor say it is ALS? Or did she say it could be ALS?
My brother: The doctor said it is ALS!

Ever since that phone call, which I ended soon after, I’ve been crying a lot, I’ve been having a mild case of diarrhea for days, I wake up early morning with panic attacks, or what I prefer to call them as emotional attacks, I sometimes can’t breathe anymore, I’ve been feeling continuous chest & throat pains, I’ve been showing up at work with baggy and watery eyes, Finally, for the first time in 35 years, I started to worry…. None-stop!

Yet none of this would be close to what my father must be feeling, so we decided to tell him of his condition gradually, without much details of what to expect in his future, and with hope of a miracle!

The Hospital II

I remember that day when..

My father was hospitalized for the first time in his life!

As I reached my father’s house, he was lying in his bed, trying to sleep, when I was told that he fell at least twice, each time he was trying to go to the bathroom, and always needed help to get up.

I told my father that we should take him to see a doctor immediately, he kept denying it and told me that he’s too tired and wants to sleep. Yet when I felt that he might have a fever, I pushed him, with the help of the housekeeper and the driver, to change his clothes, and get him ready to go to the hospital.

Due to his lack of physical strength, it took us almost one hour to get my father into the car, my brother’s car, and we headed straight to the emergency entrance of the hospital. My father, being over the age of 65, had a special card for the elderly that prioritize them in a hospital situation. Luckily the process was swift, and it was confirmed, after several tests, that my father had some kind of an infection that required his immediate hospitalization and 24 hour surveillance. That was when I noticed that my father’s speech and use of his tongue was different.

My siblings and I decided to never leave him alone while he was in this condition; so we decided to do shifts starting with my brother always spending the nights by my father’s side, while my sister and I alternated between the morning and evening shifts. We also had great support and help from our spouses whom I am truly grateful for every day.

The first 2 days were the hardest as my father, who was on antibiotics using a drip at that time, was incredibly weak to support himself. They were also hard since my father stayed in a shared room rather than a private quite room which we were able to receive only by the 3rd day. His total hospitalization lasted exactly 7 days, confirming that the infection was due to one of his high blood pressure medications, which created his fever and the increase of his overall physical weakness.

My mother, may God help her through this, was stuck in Egypt, trying every day to find a flight back home when unfortunately all the flights were fully booked due to the holiday season. On the other hand, Thank you God for protecting my mother from that week; and thank you for giving her one last trip to her beloved second home, Cairo, before my father’s symptoms started to progress.